Dame Joan Sutherland, RIP

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader’s early childhood was musically scored by great opera. He still recognizes specific recordings that his mother owned on record and were played with great frequency at home. He remembers Pavarotti. Sherrill Milnes, a young Placido Domingo, Maria Callas, Leontine Price and Joan Sutherland all singing in his home over the ole hi-fi stereo.

Well… Dame Joan Sutherland has died, aged 83, in Switzerland. The Washington Post obituary reads in part:

Born in Australia, she first trained with her mother; a vocal scholarship then brought her to London, where she reencountered Richard Bonynge, a compatriot who was then working a vocal coach at the Royal Opera House. Bonynge helped unlock and develop the upper register and rock-solid technical ability. He remained her constant artistic partner throughout her career, conducting most of her appearances and her legacy of recordings: “Lucia di Lammermoor,” “Norma,” “I Puritani,” “La sonnambula.”

Bonynge also helped guide her away from the Wagnerian track that might have seemed to be a natural for someone of her vocal endowments, and into the realm of the coloratura soprano. Sutherland’s first roles included the Forest Bird in Wagner’s “Siegfried” and Clothilde, a bit part, to Maria Callas’s Norma in Bellini’s opera of the same name. Her breakthrough came with a 1959 “Lucia di Lammermoor” at Covent Garden, directed by Zeffirelli; her success put her on the map. She reprised the role for her Metropolitan Opera and La Scala debuts in 1961 — it was for this that the Italian press dubbed her “La Stupenda” — and never really looked back.

Your Maximum Leader has some excerpts of Sutherland singing in Wagner’s Ring on his iPod. He’s listening to them now.

The world of opera has lost one of its finest practionners. Lucky for us her recordings remain as a testament of her talents.

Carry on.

1 Comment »
Mageen in Old Virginny said:

Will never forget listening to Sutherland on the radio singing the role in Lucia diLammamoor (sp?). I could have sworn that her range cracked all the rings around Saturn. We will never hear the like again in our lifetime.



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